GOP Congressmen Say Science ‘Czar’ Should Explain His Views

September 19, 2009 - 3:33 PM
White House Science "czar" John Holdren wrote in his book that given enough resources, born babies might "ultimately" become people. Some Republican lawmakers want him to clarify the statement.

John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, co-authored

(CNSNews.com) – White House science adviser John Holdren should return to Congress to explain his views, including his notion that a baby that has already been born might “ultimately” become a human being if given the proper resources.
 
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) told CNSNews.com that the “science czar” should “absolutely” come back to explain his views, and more than a dozen other GOP congressmen nodded in agreement. 
 
Holdren: Babies may ‘Ultimately’ Develop into Human Beings
 
Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), co-authored the books “Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions” (1973) and “Ecoscience” (1977) with Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, renowned population control advocates.

In the former, published by W.H. Freeman Company, Holdren and his coauthors said a born baby might “ultimately develop into a human being.”
 
In Chapter 8 of the book, called “Population Limitation,” the three argued for legalized abortion as a means of keeping the global population in check. In that context, they wrote: “The fetus, given the opportunity to develop properly before birth, and given the essential early socializing experiences and sufficient nourishing food during the crucial early years after birth, will ultimately develop into a human being.”

The Senate confirmed Holdren for his position in April, but no senators questioned him about his views on when a baby becomes a person.
 
Holdren was director of the Woods Hole Research Center, a nonprofit conservationist research institute, before taking up his post as President Obama’s top science advisor. His curriculum vitae, which still appears on the Woods Hole Web site, features “Human Ecology” prominently, listing it as the second example of the “20 books and book-length reports” he had co-authored or co-edited.
 
Kingston, who has been speaking out on the lack of congressional oversight of the czars for months, said he came across an “odd” comment during his own examination of Holdren’s arguments.
 
“He did say, I think, 1 billion people would die from global warming by the end of 2020,” Kingston said. “Well if that’s the case, we need to know about it. And coming from the science czar, that makes you think, ‘OK, maybe we’ve got to know.’ But that’s all part of the process.”
 
Kingston was referring to Holdren’s prediction that global climate change could kill a billion people in a few decades -- a prediction that Paul Ehrlich recorded in his 1986 book, “The Machinery of Nature.”
 
On page 274, Ehrlich wrote, “As University of California physicist John Holdren has said, it is possible that carbon-dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.”
 
At Holdren’s Feb. 12 confirmation hearing, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) questioned the scientist about his claim. Vitter asked, “Would you stick by that claim?”
 
Holdren said he was stating would might happen, not making a prediction. “I wouldn’t have called it a prediction then and I wouldn’t call it a prediction now. I think it is unlikely to happen, but it is—“
 
Interrupting, Vitter asked, “Do you think it could happen?”
 
“I think it could happen,” Holdren said, later adding, “I don’t think it’s likely. I think we should invest effort -- considerable effort -- to reduce the likelihood further.”
 
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), a prominent Democrat who chairs the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, told CNSNews.com last week that he did not know  "enough” about Holdren’s views to say whether he should come back to Congress and clarify them. 

(EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story wrongly identified the source of Holdren's quote as a book written by both Paul Ehrlich and Holdren. In fact, Ehrlich was the author of the work.)